Higher Education Leaders’ Opinions on Enhancing Student Employability and Modernizing the Curriculum

As remote and digital learning becomes an intrinsic part of the university experience, institutions must improve their online offering for better learning outcomes and make students highly- employable.

Focusing on the same, EdTechReview organized a webinar based on the theme - Enhancing student employability and modernizing curriculum, in association with Coursera for Campus.

This webinar showcased how digital and hybrid learning approaches can prepare students for jobs in this digital age and how higher education leaders and administrators can support the faculty in providing an exceptional digital learning experience.

Experts from leading universities & institutions also discussed how modernizing the curriculum can improve student employment.

Speakers:

Vishal Talwar
Vishal Talwar
Director, IMT Ghaziabad
dr himadri
Dr Himadri Das
Director General, International Management Institute (IMI)
phalguni gupta
Dr. Phalguni Gupta
Vice Chancellor, GLA University
dr suresh r m
Dr. Suresh R M
Pro Vice-Chancellor, BIHER, Bharath University
prof s sriman narayanan
Prof. S. Sriman Narayanan
Vice Chancellor, VELS University
raghav gupta coursera
Raghav Gupta
Managing Director, India & APAC, Coursera
Utkarsh Lokesh
Utkarsh Lokesh
CEO & Editor, EdTechReview

Mr. Utkarsh Lokesh, CEO and Editor, EdTechReview (moderator), EdTechReview (moderator), began the webinar with a question for Dr. Vishal, IMT: As per modern employers’ demands from business-student graduates, what steps to modernize the curriculum and facilitate multidisciplinary learning are you taking at IMT?

Stating that management education is continuously evolving, he mentioned, “We see a lot more influence of technology-related education and learning that needs to be built into the DNA of the program, and that’s what we try and do at IMT. However, strangely enough, at the same time, while we are trying to build in much technology, we also need to build in a lot of liberal orientations. So, when you have managers, you try to develop for the long term or leaders you are trying to develop for the longer term, all of them would have to work not only with people but also with machines.”

Explaining how it helps, he pointed out three significant pillars of management education:

  • What educationists have always been doing from a domain perspective.
  • Infusion of tech, not limited to a couple of courses but mainly integrating it much more into the curriculum.
  • And, the liberal subjects. They are also fundamentally important.

In this discussion, he also emphasized the need to build tech-related courses meant for everyone so that there is a certain semblance of technology orientation, comfort, and capability built-in through the courses.Moving on, Dr. Himadari Das, Director General, International Management Institute, responded to how IMI supports their students' learning needs. How does he see players like Coursera helping prepare students for better outcomes such as job-ready skills, internships or placements?

Affirming that ‘Coursera is a means to an end’, Dr. Himadari says, “the learning outcomes of our students are perfectly aligned with what the industry wants now in a Business School. Talking about the Indian context, despite there being doctoral and graduate degrees, it is primarily an MBA driven nation; students go to Business School to enhance their career prospects, and that is possible only when the learning outcomes that you give to your students perfectly align with the industry’s just like we have been talking for many years about technological obsolescence. There is curriculum obsolescence because technology is driving the industry in multiple ways. Therefore, the curriculum has to stay abreast. So, we have to be very nimble on curriculum and accept that curriculum obsolescence is a reality facing us. Also, we need to observe the shift in focus from what the students know to what the students can do.”

Elucidating the aim and role of hiring companies, he stated, “When you try to make students do problem sets, role plays, case studies or use different pedagogical tools, that’s where Coursera fits in. It has high-quality content that imparts knowledge from the best professors from the best schools worldwide.”

While sharing Coursera’s experience working with companies in India and across the globe, Mr. Raghav shared his views on how industry requirements for job-ready skills have changed dramatically over time, how should higher education institutions prepare for this, and what role does Coursera play in this space. He said, “As of now, we are working with nearly 3000 companies worldwide, of which hundreds are in India. And throughout the pandemic, especially the last two years, we have seen 90%+ of companies doubling down on digital transformation. As a result, many companies have started focusing on reskilling and upskilling their employees. We have seen this happening in broadly three domains—the areas of technology, digital skills, and remote work or work from home. It is here to stay.”

He also highlighted how companies are building new virtual human skills and how larger tech companies like Accenture, TCS, and Infosys are growing in India.

Mr. Raghav also pointed out the loophole that although students are getting better employment options, companies are not finding enough talent to fill in the significant demand. “This,” he said, “is being fueled by digital transformation, both globally and in India. And we are providing solutions for the same.”

Answering the question, how do you see curriculum evolving in a hybrid delivery model and his vision to be a multidisciplinary learning institution, Dr. Sriman, VELS, said that modernizing or revising the curriculum is an integral part of his institution. He advised working on a curriculum to meet the industry’s demand and give the right chances and choices to make a suitable career.

“Whether it is from AICTE or UGC,” Dr. Sriman said, “with each update, we incorporate new practices and introduce them in the curriculum so that the students are exposed to new things right away. This helps us to enable our students to learn job-ready skills.”

Dr. Sriman also reflected upon the paradigm shift in the industrial outlook or the institutions’ expectations today.

When asked how digital and data-driven skills are becoming increasingly crucial for jobs across industries and how GLA is enabling students to acquire these job-ready skills, Dr. Phalguni said, “We are governed by two components, AICTE & UGC, the regulators of the curriculum. However, in private universities, the quality or background of the students are often below the threshold value. Thus, it creates an extra load on faculty members to develop a level that supports each student’s learning. However, when it comes to student employability, the institution’s primary role is to introduce & disseminate the knowledge among students. It is a must for students to know how to use this knowledge and make themselves employable.”

Furthermore, he shed some light on short- and long-term employability opportunities and the importance of understanding where a student fits in the best rather than choosing a full-fledged course by getting influenced by ongoing trends. He also highlighted the importance of maintaining an outstanding balance of hands-on experience and theory for better learning outcomes.

Dr. Suresh from Bharath University also highlighted two components for the employability challenge. According to him, one is the student who comes and joins engineering, following the legacy careers, alienating the difficulties they might encounter during the course. Another component is the lack of knowledge apart from a student’s education. That’s where offerings like Coursera come into the picture as value additions. He also suggested that government bodies like UGC or NAAC insist that the students undergo MOOC (massive open online courses) or SWAYAM courses. “With the variety and volume of useful courses on platforms like Coursera,” Dr. Suresh said, “it is needed that we integrate such platforms into the curriculum for the well-being of students and their careers.”

The experts also answered several other exciting questions put forward by the moderator and the audience.

About Coursera:

In partnership with more than 200 leading universities and companies, Coursera aims to bring flexible, affordable, job-relevant online learning to individuals and organizations worldwide. The platform offers a range of learning opportunities—from hands-on projects and courses to job-ready certificates and degree programs.

Watch the webinar to understand the role of modern curriculum in education and how to enhance students’ employability.

Explore Coursera for Campus here.

If you would like to host a webinar with EdTechReview, please get in touch with us on sales[at]EdTechreview[dot]in

About the Author
Author: Saniya Khan
Saniya Khan I am Saniya Khan, Copy-Editor at EdTechReview - India’s leading edtech media. As a part of the group, my aim is to spread awareness on the growing edtech market by guiding all educational stakeholders on latest and quality news, information and resources. A voraciously curious writer with a dedication to excellence creates interesting yet informational pieces, playing with words since 2016.

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